Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31 Farm Update

Lordy, what a week! I've only been home from vacation since Wednesday evening but so much has happened that I hardly know where to begin.

First of all, my vacation in Texas was great, other than the fact that the temperature hovered around 95 million degrees while I was there. I spent the week shopping, getting spa treatments and spending time with family and friends. It was heavenly but I missed my flock mightily. I called Patrick three or four times a day to check up on them but I didn't have anything to worry about. He did a wonderful job looking after them.
So, the bad news is that Wednesday night we lost Daisy's lamb. She went into labor sometime between Patrick's last "lamb check" and our arrival to move them a couple of hours later. The lamb was chilled when we got there, so we wrapped in her up in our coats and drove home with the heat going full blast.

When a lamb or kid gets chilled it's important to to get their core temperature up as quickly  as possible. We held the lamb in a hot water bath, tubed her to get some hot milk into her, and held her under a blow dryer. I even tried the old shepherding trick of putting her in the oven with it set to warm. I was so desperate for a miracle but it was just too late.

Let me tell you, it was a very depressing homecoming. Daisy was upset for about 24 hours, wailing and walking around looking for her lamb. It ripped my heart out. The thing is, Daisy didn't choose to be bred; I made that decision for her. I feel like I put her through a pregnancy and labor for nothing. Worse than nothing, because she was in so much agony  when she couldn't find her baby.

I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and didn't get to bed until late on Wednesday. I was in a bad place and I was really regretting agreeing to have a film crew follow me around for a few days starting on Thursday through the weekend. 

[I can't reveal too much about what they were shooting, except to say it will be shown on a website and I'll let you know when its up.]

Well, they were just lovely people and showing them around, introducing them the flock and answering a million questions helped to take my mind off losing Daisy's lamb. The producer is a woman my age and when she found out that we had one ewe left to lamb, she said "Oh, wow! I'd really like to shoot the labor." Of course, I was thinking that would never happen, cause what are the chances? But I nodded enthusiastically anyway.

They filmed a lot on Thursday and Friday morning they came with me to do morning chores. When we got to Felix Neck I heard a moaning noise coming from the back of the pasture. I thought one of the sheep had gotten tangled up in the electric fence and was getting shocked, so I ran toward the noise and found all the sheep, goats and dogs crowded around Salina, who was writhing on the ground in labor and making a huge fuss.

Now, in my experience, goats are noisy as all Hell when they give birth, but sheep tend to just get on with it. On the other hand, this was Salina's first lamb so I thought it was possible that she was just confused and scared. When I got her on her feet though I could instantly see what the problem was. The lamb was coming out with his front hooves tucked up under his chin and she couldn't push him out. The more she strained the worse the situation became and she was pushing so hard that part of her uterus was starting to slide out. The lamb's tongue was sticking out on the side and I realized that it was too late to save it, but there wasn't anytime to think about that because I was going to lose the ewe if I didn't get the baby out of her.

I asked Calder, one of the film crew, to hold Salina around her neck and I ran over to the water tank to get my hands wet. It's important to say here that I have never, ever had to assist with labor. I've helped lambs and kids latch on to their mothers dozens of times, but a problem delivery is a whole other thing. But I had read about what to do when a lamb doesn't present properly, so while I was wetting my hands and running back I just kept thinking "You CAN do this. You CAN do this."

I thought I was going to have to put my hands inside the uterus and reposition the lamb to get him out, but Salina was pushing so hard that she was tearing herself to pieces. So I grabbed the lamb's legs and pulled as hard as a could. It took a couple seconds, and more force than I expected, but the lamb slooshed out. And opened his eyes.

Meet Truman.

[Sorry I don't have better pictures. I'll take some tomorrow when it stops raining.]

Both mother and baby are doing great. I watched them for a long time, watched him stand up for the first time and find his mama's udder all by himself.  The whole thing was so emotional that I had tears running down my face while I watched them. Some of you know that I take my responsibility to my flock very seriously. When Daisy's lamb died, I felt terrible because if I had only arrived ten minutes earlier, that lamb might of made it. But with Salina's lamb, if I had gotten there ten minutes later, Salina and her lamb would have died. 

I can't be with the flock all the time. It's just not possible. And that means that sometimes things will go wrong and sometimes I'll get lucky. Friday was a lucky day. 

But the most amazing part of this whole story is that the film crew got the whole birth on tape. And you're going to get to see it!  I'll let you know as soon it's edited and up, but they are still here shooting until tomorrow so I don't think it will be for a couple of weeks.

In other, far less dramatic news, I am dyeing yarn like crazy and trying to get ready for the first farmer's market next Saturday. I probably won't make it off the Island much until the end of summer so ya'll are gonna have to come see me. I'm getting lots of calls and emails about farm visits and I love introducing people to the flock. So get over here!

Tomorrow I'm going to be posting a new giveaway that you won't want to miss. I'm destashing some beautiful Manos Del Uruguay yarns. To get into the giveaway you'll have to post a comment on tomorrow's post. You don't have to be a shareholder to enter so feel free to pass it along to your friends.


A Crafty Lawyer said...

Oh my god -- what an emotionally wrenching week you had! So sad to hear about Daisy's lamb. As I read about Truman, though, I felt as though I were there with you willing him to hang in there. So happy that his story had a happy ending. It's clear to see how much love you give these sweet animals ... hope you can think about the good days when there's a bad one.

--Deb said...

Wow, talk about highs and lows! So sad about Daisy's lamb, but what an entrance for Truman! What a welcome home.

Hey, did you see? Mom just had her 100th post over at MV Obsession. She's so darn proud of herself!

Katom Burke said...

wow! what a story. i guess the farm is a good example of the nature of things. susan, i think you are doing a great job and your dedication to the flock is so obvious. please don't take the losses as "failures" on your part. you are doing the best you can! i look forward to seeing the video. i am also hoping to bring a friend and her kids to me you and your kids (and lambs) this summer.
Kate :)

Perry said...

What a week! Poor Daisy (and you), but thank goodness you just went on instinct with Salina and have Truman to show for it.


Diane said...

What a good mom you are, Susan!

Andrea said...

Every farm update has me in almost unbearable suspense. I never knew that shepherding was so dramatic and full of emotional highs and lows.

Anonymous said...

What a rollercoaster week you had! I'm sorry about Daisy's baby. Truman is adorable - I can't wait to see him coming into the world.

Crista said...

Wow, Texas must seem like the distant past.

What a fantastic save of ewe and you and Truman!

Good job! Can't wait to visit.

Joan said...

Susan - what a week, wow. Sorry about Daisy's lamb. That's an amazing story about Salina and Truman... welcome to the little guy.
Can't wait to see the video... I'll put my squeamishness aside to watch it :)

SeDress said...

Will Salina need any follow up care after this difficult birth?
And how is she doing as a new mom?
(Thinking of Daisy) I've read of sheep who've lost their own lambs being cajoled into taking care of an orphan lamb: could a sheep nurse an orphaned goat? Or is their biology just too different?

JennyJennette said...

What a story. Of all times for a film crew to be following you! Your flock is lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing with us.

Jenny said...

Wow, what an amazing story! I absolutely teared up reading it, Ken is wondering what's wrong with me.

I can't believe how emotional your job is, and you do such a great job at it. It's good that you get so upset by deaths when they happen, Susan, otherwise you wouldn't be a good shepherd. I think it's clear how much you love your flock, and I think your reward for that was getting the experience of saving Truman. Congratulations! He is beautiful. :)

I'm really hoping I can come see all of you when I'm on the Island for the Relay. I'll have to bribe someone to use their car while they all walk in the hot sun. :)

Jenny said...

Hugs to you and all the dear fuzzy ones on the farm
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us all!


Mary, Mary... said...

Sheesh, and I thought having human kids was stressful. Besides, how can a spa treatment compete with all of that? What kind of dyes are you using?

Yay, Truman and Salina!

Joat said...

So very glad Truman and Salina made it. So very, very glad you were there just in time to handle it. How do you like the new golf cart?

joyce said...

What a story, I read every word and felt like I was there myself. You are wonderful and thanks for sharing your sadness and joy with all of us.

Susan said...

Ya'll are so sweet. As soon as I got over the shock of the whole birthing experience my very first thought was "Wait till I tell the shareholders!"
MaryMary- I started with Jaquard dyes but didn't have much luck with them. Now I'm using the Prochem washfast acid dyes, which sound dangerous and bad for the environment but they aren't! (They could really use a little marketing advice over at Prochem.)

Joat- I LOVELOVELOVE the golf cart. It has given me at least an hour of my day back. Come visit and I'll let you drive her.

Sedress, I've been missing you like crazy! Where have you been?!? Salina is a great mom, except that she keeps seeing Ike with his mom and getting confused about who her baby is. She does a lot of sniffing before reclaiming Truman as her own.

Unfortunately, grafting a baby onto another mom only works well if the baby you're trying to graft is a newborn. I don't know if you could put a goat kid onto a sheep, or vice versa, but I don't see why not. Someone in my sisters office had a dog that just had puppies and adopted a rejected piglet! The pictures were the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Deb, I am so proud of your mom! Her blog is great and anyone who hasn't read it yet should get over there. She writes about the Vineyard with such love and grace.
Jenny, call me when you are hear and I'll pick you up.

Anonymous said...

I am speechless!!!!! So, so proud of you and in awe.

I can clean a fish, a rabbit, a even a deer....but to see an animal in pain, and bleeding - I am certain I would've A) become hysterical of B) fainted. I can not handle seeing anyone I love (animal or human) in pain. I have managed to be at the birth for 4 of my 11 nieces and nephews and I fainted Each and Every time. :)

Very inspiring story!!! And little Truman is an absolute doll!

Ginger_nut said...

oh wow - thanks so much for sharing such an emotional experience with us. This story is amazing!

I have some tears forming in my eyes, and I wasn't there so I can only imaging how emotionally exhausting the experience was for you.

I am sorry you lost Daisy's lamb, but I think it is amazing that Truman survived.

woolies said...

wow. and wow.
poor Daisy - would it have helped if she saw her (dead) lamb? Then she would know?

Jean said...

I'm sure you were bawling after it turned out okay because I was crying just reading your message! Truman is a beaut, and I'm so glad you got there just in time. Hugs to you both, and to the proud mama!

Susan said...

Hey Woolies! I don't think it would make much difference but to be honest I've never really let it play out that way for long enough to know for sure. But now that I think of it, back when we had boar goats I noticed that one of a set of twins was missing when I went to feed in the morning. I found him dead in the run in shed, kind of buried under the hay. His mama seemed totally fine. He had been fine when I left the night before but he had a little cold. I think he died in the night and his mama had kind of covered him with hay. Maybe see wasn't visibly morning because she had time to get used to the idea?

hodgepodgespv said...

i found you thru ravelry...i wish is could be a share holder. but i can sort of by keeping up with your blog. you are a great touch my heart. i may have to change my name here so i can be puddle duck...i keep tearing up...sad, joyful. thank you for appearing in my world. i'll not get much knitting done until i get all thru past postings. have a better, better day!

sandy (puddle duck) in texas